Is Christianity a Negative Religion?

Discussion in 'Comparative Studies' started by lunamoth, Apr 9, 2007.

  1. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    OK, obviously my answer is no. :)

    But people who leave Christianity, either drifting off into a secular life or actually converting to a different religion, sometimes site a negative perspective or too much emphasis on 'sin' in Christianity as the reason they were turned off from it.

    Do you agree that Christianity has a more negative outlook on things? Please say whether you are or were a Christian, and if you left what made you do so. Was it the teachings, the people, a particular experience?

    From my own perspective, I think Christianity is a very (the most) hopeful and positive religion. I can understand however that the emphasis on sin, and especially the doctrine of Original Sin, is viewed by many as a negative aspect of Christianity, especially when combined with some Protestant teachings about predestination and hell. Personally I think that while some meditation on sin and hell (as separation from God) can deepen our faith, to only emphasize these aspects is a shallow, hollow approach to Christianity and yes, I consider that a very negative face of the religion. It can also be noted that not all Christian denominations, notably the Eastern Orthodox, have Original Sin as part of their doctrine, and the ideas of theosis and apacatastasis are not/have not always been viewed as heresies.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2007
  2. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    No I don't, however I do believe that is a matter of perspective. I'd say from a Christian perspective, we'd all say it is not negatively based.

    I'd even say those that lean more to fire and brimstone would also indicate that they are accentuating the positive (heaven and salvation).

    I'm guessing the only ones that will see Christianity as negative are those that left, or are from other religions..(and not all of them...) Should be interesting...
     
  3. earl

    earl ?

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    I'd agree Lunamoth that whether Christianity is viewed by some as a "negative" religion would be based on the version/theology they hear and the associated behavior of the adherents. I may have mentioned this here long ago but at the large Buddhist internet forum where I've hung out for some time, (not much anymore), it struck me how many new-to-Buddhism converts were there who were literally refugees from experiences of a harsh, judgmental, "fundamentalistic" Christianity. Of course, as many here know my own version of Christianity is heavily "Buddhist influenced.":D It is easy to see how a version of Christianity that speaks of original sin as some primal species decision eons ago, (hmm doesn't it say we were made in God's image?), that each individual is now saddled with which, unless one properly propitiates a judging God will damn one to eternal hell might not be particularly inviting.;) take care, earl
     
  4. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    I opine that for some who think (philosophy) they are basically good persons, would find Christianity very negative.

    I liken Christianity to military boot camp. We walk in on day one, thinking one thing about ourselves (mostly over-rated), then for the next five weeks we are driven and worn down to our base material. In short we get the spiritual/mental stuffing knocked out of us, while being simultaneously physically gleaned of all the poisons we had built up inside. Then for the next four or five weeks we are built back up, but without the baggage we were carrying before. We are made stronger, more disciplined, and refined. We also understand the rules as given us to follow.

    The result is a sharp man/woman.

    In Christianity one has to go through a kind of purification of fire, and not everyone likes that.

    So instead of saying it is negative, I would say being Christian is hard.

    v/r

    Joshua
     
  5. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Luna,

    I commend you for starting this thread. You have opened up a critical look at a key Christian teaching. It may be that you are starting out on a path of self-critique and self-reflection of your own personal belief system.

    Thank you for the consideration and foresight to put this thread in the Comparative Section. I would not have responded if it were in the Christian Section.

    You have raised a point which non-Christians view as negative. There are other such points. Are you interested in these other points? Is this really a path you wish to begin exploring?

    My own path of religious self-critique began when I was 12, and was firmly established by the time I was 15. No point of my belief system was safe behind the protection of dogma. Ideas that did not make sense were tossed. I have finally come up with a belief system that makes sense to me. I am glad I did it, and I hope you have the courage to attempt the same thing.

    Are you willing to follow an analysis of your belief system, no matter where it takes you?

    I vote yes.
     
  6. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    Hi Nick,

    Well, been there done that. :) I drifted away from Christianity for many years and when I returned to religion I was a Baha'i for five years. I did end up with doubt about the Baha'i Faith, and upon my return to Christianity I've re-examined my faith rather diligently. Theosophy is academically interesting to me, and I have also found it interesting to compare to what I know of the Baha'i Faith. But, I highly doubt I would ever consider it as a religion for myself. I'm much to skeptical to be interested in the Spiritism aspects, much too simple to be interested in the complex esoteric teachings, and much too scientific to ever consider a creation story in which humans mated with sub-humans or non-humans and where apes have descended from humans (sorry I'm not trying to be flip about that but it really is not an idea I could ever give my intellectual assent to).

    However, for the purposes of this thread I am very much interested in hearing what you have to say about the topic. I would ask, however, that you not direct further personal comments toward me along these lines...I would find that uncomfortable and kind of like prosyletizing.

    luna
     
  7. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Luna,

    I am sorry if my comments came across as personal comments toward you.

    I am not sure there is value in a "What's wrong with Christianity" thread. Even though I could write a great deal on the subject, I do not think such a response would further the cause of inter-religious dialogue. (Especially because I am not a Christian, and I am the only non-Christian to respond in this thread so far.)

    Perhaps the best way to approach this is for you to ask specific questions about specific aspects of Christianity. That might be the least criticising way to approach the subject.

    To answer your question at the beginning of the thread, I left Christianity because of the idea of the forgiveness of sin.
     
  8. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    Nick, I started this thread because of the comment you made in the other thread along these lines...got me thinking that it would be an interesting topic. I know that there are things about Christianity that others view as negative...some having to do with theology, some having to do with how some Christians interpret the Bible or act, some having to do with the evil acts that have done throughout history in the name of Christianity. These are all valid (and I think interesting) points for discussion.

    But note below how you turned this to a discussion about my personal beliefs:

    Sure, I would expect that along the way I would share some of my beliefs and others will share some of theirs. However, the statements above are uncomfortably like this discussion is about what is negative about what lunamoth believes, and that is not what I intended.

    If you don't feel it's possible to discuss the perceived negative aspects of Christianity as a discussion topic I understand. There is no compulsion in Comparative Religion. :p
     
  9. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    Can you elaborate? How do you define sin? Is it the acknowledgement of sin or something about forgiveness that strikes you as negative?
     
  10. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Luna,

    You said,

    "If you don't feel it's possible to discuss the perceived negative aspects of Christianity as a discussion topic I understand."

    --> Perhaps there is some value in such a discussion. In my opinion, many Christians are not aware of the specific things that cause non-Christians to view them negatively. And, in my opinion, there is more negativity towards Christians than Christians realize. When I discuss such things with my fellow non-Christians (which happens a lot, unfortunately), there is definitely a feeling that Christians do not know what we feel about them, or why we feel the way we do. Aw, but the trick is to do it without it turning into Christian-bashing -- a danger we all want to avoid.

    "Can you elaborate?"

    --> Well, since you asked.... The forgiveness of sin removes responsibility from the sinner. We believers in karma are agast at the idea that a person can do a bad thing, and "escape punishment". (We are confident that forgiveness/escape does not happen.)

    Does Revelation say we will be held accountable for what we do? (I think it does.) If it does, I see this as being contrary to the idea of the forgiveness of sin. And if it does, this is a blaring contradiction within Christianity.

    "How do you define sin?"

    --> Sin is the breaking of Divine Law. (The concept of sin is not a part of my belief system, but I know what you mean, and I answer in that vein.)

    "Is it the acknowledgement of sin ... something ... that strikes you as negative?"

    --> Certainly not. Not only will it be eventually be acknowledged, I believe we will be held responsible.

    "Is [there] ... something about forgiveness that strikes you as negative?"

    --> As stated above, such a concept as the forgiveness of sin is unacceptable to me.
     
  11. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    Good points. And it is my hope that I and other Christians who participate in this thread restrain ourselves from 'correcting' or writing off as invalid the views brought up by non-Christians. I think there is value in sincerely trying to understand views contrary to our own without running down the other person. I'd rather avoid any kind of bashing.

    I think that one of the most negative things about Christianity is how the triumphalistic character of the religion too often plays out as violence and antagonism against people who believe differently.

    I find this surprising! Actually it seems that this particular criticism is that you see Christianity as too positive and easy, rather than too negative or condemning.

    *time for bed, catch you later*
     
  12. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Luna,

    You said,

    "I find this surprising!"

    --> Why does this surprise you?

    "Actually it seems that this particular criticism is that you see Christianity as (1) too positive and easy, rather than (2) too negative or condemning."

    --> You have mixed your ideas. (1) Correct. (2) Unfortunately, we also see these aspects in Christianity, but not in the particular issue of the forgiveness of sin. (I hope you do not misconstrue this as Christian-bashing.)

    "...the triumphalistic character of the religion too often plays out as violence and antagonism against people who believe differently."

    --> This is a fair assessment.

    ~~~

    This is turning into a good inter-religion discussion. I would say more, but a fear of personal comment prevents me.
     
  13. 17th Angel

    17th Angel לבעוט את התחת ולקחת שמות

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    In many forms it sure is.. And in some forms... It isn't. christianity, has many faces... And they all claim the same name but many differ so much from each other, I have found from just my personal view and opinon that the majority is "the end is nigh!!!!!" kind of clut behaviour, waiting for the end of all things, and does in ways seem odd.. Such as the JW for example... They in a way are happy that earthquakes, crime, war and so on happen... Because these things are really "new" aren't they? And it shows that the "time" is coming.....But then you also have the happy clappy jesus loves you fellow.... That doesn't seem negative... Just seems like a person over excited and happy... maybe tripping... Who knows, but that I wouldn't say is negative... I guess it's a 60, 40 thing...
     
  14. Pathless

    Pathless Fiercely Interdependent

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    The above quote could be jumping-off point for my two cents about my personal jump-off from Christianity, so here I go:

    I didn't leave institutionalized "Christianity" for scientific reasons, although logic had something to do with it, in hindsight. I don't think I could have articulated this at the time, but I did find it illogical that an unconditionally loving God had created a special place for those individuals who had completely missed the mark, so to speak, to be tortured for all of eternity. The concept of an eternal hell and the fire and brimstone of Revelations were major turn-offs for me as a young Christian.

    On top of that, chuch, Sunday school, and youth group all seemed more like social clubs than any kind of moral institutions. People would come once a week or so, sing hymns, go through the motions of this creed and that Lord's Prayer, put 5% of their paycheck in the gold-plated offering plate, sure, but it seemed like the real reason they were there was to chit-chat, socialize, see and be seen. I didn't see anyone who was making a real effort throughout the week to be like Jesus.

    As far as Christianity being like boot-camp, fortunately I never experienced that denomination. If I had, I would have returned my military uniform and standard issue rifle to the minister and headed for India or acid in search of Christ.
     
  15. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    Because to me, and most people I've ever talked with about it, forgiveness is a virtue and a very positive act for healing relationships and our own souls. I find it surprising to see forgivness considered undesirable.
     
  16. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

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    Thank you to all who have replied so far.

    To narrow the question a bit, is it your impression that Christian theology has a negative view of humanity (i.e., we are sinners in need of salvation) or positive view of humanity (i.e., we were created in God's image).
     
  17. zeras

    zeras New Member

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    Asalaamulikum,

    I have to say that first of all, Negative can be defined differently to
    different people. I view Christianity as religion belives in God, I also agree with you yes that is another big thing that I can't see people living and thinking that everyone is a sinner even a new born?? Also the idea of we are created from God's image, hmm. From recalling frome what Judaism teachs, God is like our Father. He is not like a human or you know father by blood. We are all in a way spritual childeren of God. Example, He takes care of us in our time of crisis and also gives us hard tasks to test us. This is But, I noticed the only people who become Atheists are the ones, who don't do studies and don't reseach enough. I would become a Christian, but I do not stay with with idea of the Trinity. I've noticed a pattern, about many reverts to Islam.
    First, thing I noticed they are open minded people. Second, they study their holy texts and actually struggle to find the answer instead giving up. Third, I noticed are the people who had some intrest of learning what Islam is and/or have all ways hated Islam by bais and never actually studing it. I belive everyone must stuggle to find answers, if we do not than what are we??
    We must all be strong holders of our faith and must all ways respect others.
    Over all, Christinity itself is not bad. Like anything we must not judge a religion by it's followers, instead by it's teachings. Where ever there is missconceptions and once the truth is given the missconceptions will vanish. I hope this had helped.

    Salaamulikum
    (peace be upon you)
     
  18. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    While it isn't my view, but I would say the prevailing perception I receive from others is that first, Adam was created in G-d's image, and second, we are all sinners, and third, anyone that doesn't believe in Jesus as their saviour is headed to hell.

    It is not my belief, but it is what I hear most often....and looking at it, it does sound negative.
     
  19. taijasi

    taijasi Gnōthi seauton

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    In short, I reject churchianity, which I think often presents Christ's teachings and message in a negative fashion ... while Christianity is nothing less than timeless Truth, in one of its many presentations to Humanity. I do not believe that it is was part of Christ's original message that anyone who did fall into the lockstep march of churchianity - would meet with eternal punishment and damnation. This is no more than fear tactics.


    The Christian Way, unto itself, is something I regard as the Greatest Revelation yet delivered unto a needy and spiritually un-mature Humanity. G.K. Chesterton summarizes my own sentiment quite nicely:
    "Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried."

    And as Gandhiji similarly said:
    "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."
     
  20. Pathless

    Pathless Fiercely Interdependent

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    I agree with wil here. I think though that if Christianity were indeed spun the other way and based on the belief that we are all indeed children of God, the Christian institution as such would be more fruitful. I also think if Christianity was more focused on Jesus as a way-shower, rather than emphasizing his role as a saviour by whose sacrifice all of our evils are atoned for, Christianity could become a very positive force for upliftment. As it is now, from my point of view, Christianity is more concerned with tithing, in-fighting, prostration, and proselytizing.

    Monty Python does a bit related to this:

    God: Every time I try to talk to someone it's sorry this and forgive me that and I'm not worthy...

     

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